Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Mount Desert Island

Acadia National Park covers much of Mount Desert Island. Most of the park is preserved in its natural state, with commercial activity taking place outside the park in surrounding communities. Busy little resort towns offer modern services, lodging, dining spots, gift shops and antique stores.

The eastern half of Mount Desert is the more populated side. It is home to the town of Bar Harbor, which is near the Cadillac Mountain Entrance to Acadia National Park. The western half, locally known as the “quiet side,” is more rural. The land is punctuated with marshes, coves, inlets and an occasional village.

Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor (population 4,820) is a vibrant gateway community to Acadia. Where the millionaires’ summer cottages once stood, contemporary visitors will find inns, hotels, guesthouses, sidewalk cafés, formal restaurants and block after block of boutiques, specialty shops and galleries.

Bar Harbor is also home to such prestigious institutions as Jackson Laboratory, a leading genetics research center, Mount Desert Island Biological Lab and the College of the Atlantic, a small liberal arts college. During the summer, all offer educational programs for the public.

Learn more about the town’s history at the Bar Harbor Historical Museum located at 33 Ledgelawn Avenue. For more information call (207) 288-0000 or (207) 288-3807 (reservations) or visit barharborhistorical.org.

Northeast Harbor

Eleven miles from Bar Harbor lies Northeast Harbor (population 1,100). This low-key town, punctuated by stately summer homes and boats bobbing at the waterfront, sits on a protected deep-water port—one of the best in the state.

Walk along Municipal Pier or poke your head into the town’s antique store and old bookshop. On Route 3, Thuya Gardens mixes formal English flower beds with simple Japanese influences. Each June, Asticou Azalea Gardens, on Route 198, presents more than 20 varieties of azaleas. Seasonal activities include golf and tennis.

The Great Harbor Maritime Museum on Main Street is a good place to see some of the island’s historical artifacts.  

Southwest Harbor

Found on the island’s western “quiet side,” Southwest Harbor is a large fishing village of 1,952 that looks out over Somes Sound. The second largest town on Mount Desert, it is ranked one of the top 10 commercial fishing harbors in Maine. Boat-building is the main industry and some of the world’s finest crafts come from here.

The Wendell Gilley Museum exhibits more than 200 bird carvings and offers carving demonstrations.

On land, you can golf, hike, rent a bike or have a beachside picnic. Take to the water and hop the ferry to the Cranberry Isles, or go deep-sea fishing for halibut or tuna.

On the outskirts of Southwest Harbor is the village of Manset, home of several boat yards. The nearby town of Tremont, home to 1,300 islanders, takes its name from the French trois and mont, describing the three mountains seen from the town. Lobstering is the primary industry. West Tremont, Bernard and Bass Harbor are smaller villages associated with Tremont.